Over the years, various Pope's have made many tragic mistakes. Generally these take about 500 years to be acknowledged and for an apology to be issued. In my own personal opinion, one of the worse decisions made in my lifetime was the one to do away with the traditional fast on a Friday. When I was a child growing up in a strictly Roman Catholic household, Friday was different. Friday was the day when no meat was eaten. For me, there was a big upside and a big downside. The downside was the fact that school dinners at St Vincents (a Roman Catholic Junior School) were usually inedible. Not only that but a team of nuns viciously enforced a policy of "eat it all up". Pockets were checked, floors were examined for any attempts to hide the inedible slop which we used to invariably be dished up. That was the downside. The upside was glorious. Every Friday evening, my Dad would arrive home from work with bags of Fish and Chips. As there were six of us kids, mum, dad and usually some strange northern relative visiting (nice old Aunty Mary, Harry Taylor (the Magician), John Rathbone (the guy who used to go to Crufts) or Bernard, my brothers friend from France (swimming & Karate Champion who I suspect my sisters all rather liked !). We'd all sit down with mugs of brimming tea and tuck in. If you've never witnessed the Tichborne Family en mass with food, you'd be shocked. Imagine a dead Wildebeast with a large pack of hungry lions. I was the youngest by a few years, so I had to be the meanest, or I'd starve.
To my mothers eternal horror, we all inherited our eating habits from my father. To him, dining was a challenge. His favourite trick was to distract the person next to him and steal the best item from their plate. I'll never forget my mothers horror and anger with him, when he did this to the Mayor at a charity dinner. Personally, I don't think I'd want a sausage from any of our current crop of Tory councillors, but hey that's another story. Anyway, I digress.
Anyway, as I was saying, Friday was a special day. I always thought the pope had imposed the rule because he was a great bloke. To this day, fish and chips is a treat. It's a great dish for when you've got visitors and you don't want to mess around. Pickled Onions and Gherkins, salt & Vinegar. Eat it with your fingers and wash it down with tea or beer. My dad was an avowed carnivore, so he was ecstatic when the rule was abolished. He could have a steak on a Friday (as well as Thursday, wednesday, etc). I was gutted, Friday was suddenly a bit less special.
One of the best things about the effect of Friday, was the fact that as my dad felt he'd suffered so much on a friday, the breakfast ritual on a Saturday was different. Every other day of the week, it was a rigid regime. A cup of tea, a slice of toast and a bowl of cornflakes or other cereal. My mum, who was never good in the morning would send one of us kids up with a tray of it for my Dad, who never got up before 9.30 am (allegedly for health reasons). He'd lie in bed, reading the paper, or saying the Rosary and eat his breakfast. Mum didn't mind this regime as she thought he was "Too cheeful in the morning". On Saturday, Dad would get up and make us Bacon Sandwiches. Mum would lie in bed and feel miserable. Saturday morning was the day we awoke to the smell of frying bacon. I was a vegetarian for 16 years (after I had an ulcer & nearly died). It is true that bacon is the secret weapon of all carnivores ! When I started eating meat again, bacon sanwiches where the first thing back on the menu.
To this day, I still think my dad made the best bacon sandwiches. he'd only buy the best bacon. He'd fry it in butter, with tomatoes. He'd get the best uncut bread he could and toast it under the grill. A spot of pepper on top and hey presto. As he died 22 years ago this week, I thought I'd make myself a dad style bacon sandwich for breakfast. It's hard to get proper hand cut bacon with rind these days. I compromised and got some expensive stuff from Waitrose. Sadly there was no rind. My mother always used to tell us about the times during the war when the bacon was rationed. Her father would have all the lean cuts and give the rind to the kids. He always used to tell them he'd saved them the best bit. They were always very grateful.
Anyway, I made my bacon sandwich a la Dad. It was great. The simple things in life really are the best ! Next Friday I think we'll all have fish & chips for supper. If you have any wacky Norther relatives visiting send them round. If you have any French Karate & Swimming champs send them around as well. I'm sure my 13 year old daughter would be most happy then!
Things To Do In London Today: Wednesday 19 June 2013 - *If you’ve not already done so, you can subscribe to these daily listings and have them delivered to your inbox at 7am every morning. Alternatively, subs...
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